Last month I was back in the Capital of the Alenov Empire. Audo and I were enjoying the Gray Victory Day parade when I spotted a familiar face nearby who turned out to be Eha! I’ve told you about Eha before; she’s my old dorm mate from college, the thin one. She was there with her husband, Slava, and their son Niko, and suggested that we catch up over coffee after the parade.
Slava and Audo found they had something in common, being military men and all, so Eha suggested that they take Niko to the park while she and I went to the Golden Leaf Café. You remember the Golden Leaf right?
Eha told me she was expecting another child soon and asked me to be the godmother, I accepted of course! She then took out this old hardcover journal of hers and asked me if I wanted it. She said she was thinking of tossing it away but decided to wait to see if I wanted it.
You know how I am. I cannot resist diaries and letters, they’re full of so much interesting history that others tend to overlook.
A lot of it is fairly normal, the things you would find in a teenager’s diary. The most interesting entries I found were are the very end. I’ve reproduced them here for your personal reading.
I think they may have something to do with the Jailers and the Baikal Mass somehow, but I wished to give it to you since you would know more about that world than I. I have of course provided some comments to explain or clear up some things you may not know.
Hearth and Soup,
PS. The entire diary is currently in the East Wing right now, so if you do want to read it all just ask for it under ‘Kuznetsov, Eha’.
All roads lead somewhere, so it’s not surprising when we get lost people in town. What is surprising is that they decided to come talk to Dad instead of going to Town Hall or asking literally anyone else for a map. Dad was treating a patient1 at the time so he made them wait in the lobby where I was sitting in for Mom as the receptionist. Mom was shopping for groceries, which usually means she’s probably not coming back until dinnertime since she always gets so ‘caught up in conversations’.
They looked really odd and their accent was completely off, like the words themselves didn’t fit in their mouths. The two men, one with gray hair and the other with brown, wore matching black clothes but they definitely were not from the Capital since they didn’t have the badges or anything. I tried saying ‘hi’ but the brown haired one just glared at me and the other didn’t even look at me. When Dad called them in, they hurried real fast.
They left about an hour later and Dad told me that they were from out of the Empire. They said they were lost but the way my Dad told it to me I think he thinks they’re lying.
Mom and Dad talked over dinner about it, and Dad mentioned their weird accent. Mom thinks they’re just victims of the Kurususk2 and would leave soon so it was nothing to worry about, then she said that we were all going to go to the cathedral in a few days for some lady’s society luncheon. If my Dad was a balloon, he would have deflated.
“Eha, do you know what the answer to this question is?” it’s an imaginary number, duh. Why is Heino so stupid? Why am I always paired with him in maths work? I can’t even ask for a new partner since it’s the middle of the school year and he’s a Virtanen. Also I’m pretty sure he eats his snot.
Oh I saw those two weird guys again, they were hanging out behind the Ruoho butcher shop picking up soil. I don’t think they saw me watching them through the fence, they were talking in a different language and the older one was writing things down on a clipboard.
I think they might be scientists, not the Capital’s scientists, but some sort of scientists. Maybe from a university? They’re still weird. The Virtanens, the Ozolins, Kuznetsovs, and I think the Rebanes3 too have all noticed them so they’re probably not just your average lost people. They’re probably going to get forced out by the police if all four know about them and think they’re a disruption. Maybe I should tell the police about them squatting around Ruoho?
ALSO, while I was cleaning the dishes the neighbor’s dog got out from their backyard and decided to come into our house and sit in the kitchen. I had to drag it back to the neighbors and it left a huge gross streak on the floor that Dad made me clean up.
Okay so basically a lot has happened. Our maths teacher had FOUR babies! FOUR! BABIES! Then there was a car accident on the main road because of drinking and my dad had to open up the operating room again. Not five hours later, a transport train came through and a bunch of soldiers stopped over at the bars and caused a huge ruckus before leaving on the train, and there was trash everywhere from them. Then yesterday we went to the luncheon thing with Mom. Mom was talking about the Flesh4 during the luncheon and told me that when grandma’s mom was around during the war, they needed to hide all of it so a lot of people starved even more. Sounds a bit difficult, since it’s bigger than some of the aurochs they have around here and doesn’t even have legs. Where did they put it even? Dad hid in the bathroom for the entire three hours we were at the luncheon. Mother Ilves and Father Laine found him while we were getting ready to leave. Mom didn’t talk to Dad the entire walk home. I think Dad slept in his office again too. I bet I know why I’m an only child.
Also Heino didn’t turn in our maths project so we’re probably going to get a huge docking in points.
I haven’t seen those two weird guys around recently, but Esko did. He said the strange men were up at the Cathedral, but he doesn’t know if they talked to Mother Ilves or Father Laine. Esko said his dad and the other family heads* had discussed them at town hall. The Virtanens think they’re spies from over the mountains far up north, the Ozolins think they’re thieves, the Kuznetsovs don’t care who they are since they think they’re victims of Kurususk but want them out. I don’t remember what Esko said for the Rebanes but it was probably something disturbing.
While at the Cathedral today, Mother Ilves took out a piece of the Flesh and allowed us to touch it after we pricked our fingers. It was warm and sticky, and twitched a bit. So not much different from when she took it out a few months ago. We had the whole prayer things about Elikommet and The Great Mother Earth, and I kind of fell asleep around the time they got to the Bones. Oops.
I saw the two men again. They were hanging out in the very back and taking notes. When everyone was beginning to leave, the two men came up to Mother Ilves and started talking to her about the Flesh. I wanted to stay and hear what they were saying but Mom wanted to go buy fabrics for new dresses and pulled me away.
Good lords, I’ve been matched with a Kuznetsov. I don’t even know any Kuznetsovs personally! They engaged me to Tuule’s son, the one who’s in the army right now and is five or seven years older than me. What were they thinking? I argued with Mom and Dad about this but they of course wouldn’t listen because ‘you’re a teenager Eha you don’t understand how these things work and if you live under our house our rules’ blah blah blah. This is all so STUPID.
He’s coming up here within two months. What did I do to deserve this? Do my parents hate me?
The Ozolins were right! The two weird guys stole some of the Flesh. They snuck inside and took a large chunk of it and ran to their car. Mother Ilves and Father Laine managed to catch the gray haired one, but other man had the piece of the Flesh and drove off. Dad and a few others got into the cars to try and follow him, but he was gone, probably already went past the Kurususk. The older man was taken to town hall and interrogated by the police. Apparently he refused to say anything so they went to trial and the judge found him guilty. They hung him in the town square and after my Dad confirmed he was dead they took him to the Cathedral and fed him to the Flesh.
Why would you try to take a piece of the flesh? What is wrong with people? Who were they? Why did they want some of OUR Flesh? Did they not have any of their own?
At class, Heino stopped talking to me and asked to be seated with Maria. I felt bad for Maria, since she has less of a tolerance for stupid people than I do. He probably heard I got paired with someone. Esko said that Heino would get matched to someone soon too, and then said that he felt sorry for whoever ended up married to him.
At the Cathedral, I had to go speak to Tuule for the first time. She’s a very tall thin (AND RUDE!) woman constantly wringing her hands and she kept asking Father Laine if the thief was going to come back. She blamed Mother Ilves for disbanding the small militia which used to guard the Cathedral, but Father Laine told her that the war is long over and the economy has been back at its original strength for the past twenty years so there’s no need for guards because there’s no more looters to worry about. Tuule said that the thieves proved that the militia should be brought back. They argued for, like, twenty minutes before Tuule finally noticed me. She asked me if I was Eha and I was like “uhm, yeah” and she went “oh no I’m marrying my poor little Slava to a pauper faced girl”. Has she looked at a mirror recently!?
She told me I have a month to prepare to move into the Kuznetsov compound. Thanks, lady.
Also in literature class I got 100% on a quiz I forgot we were even having, so hurrah for dumb luck.
Mom dragged me to another one of the lady society things. They had food there so it wasn’t all bad. It was mostly just middle-aged and elderly women sitting in a circle chatting about things and talking about how terrible it was that a piece of the Flesh was stolen. Esko’s mom said that since it’s out of its home, the Flesh will get sick and angry. Mother Ilves had us all say a prayer that the thief will come back to return the Flesh and repent, but I don’t think prayers really work if they’re past the Kurususk.
Mother Ilves took me aside to personally congratulate me on the engagement. I ended up asking her if she really thought that the thief would come back, but she just told me that we have to hope. I also told her about Tuule’s comment about my face and Mother Ilves just pursed her lips and made a “hrrmmm” noise. She said that I probably won’t need to deal with Tuule much when Slava came back. I had to fill in for Mom again, since it was someone’s birthday and she just had to attend.
The maths teacher came back, but only to tell us she’ll be out for the rest of the year to take care of her babies. She said she didn’t know who was going to replace her for the year. I like her, and if it wasn’t for Heino (who got slugged by Maria yesterday, it was pretty funny), the class would have been great.
Dad said since I’m moving out soon I should get an afterschool job so I could start making some money on my own. So now I’m more than just a fill in for my mom, I work on every odd numbered day and she works on the even days. Mom says she’s fine with it since it gives her more time for the Cathedral.
He’s paying me four crona5 less than Mom though.
Dad told me that he and Tuule don’t get along at all, and joked that he could show me a few drugs that don’t show up very well in tests. I asked him if he was serious and he said he was saving them for Mom.
Being a receptionist isn’t all bad, I guess. Scheduling visits keeps me fairly busy and Dad usually gives me snacks or a candy dish. A man came in, wearing a uniform, the kind that the military gives to officers with the shiny buttons and a badge. He was really tall and had dark hair and a nice voice and he asked if he could have some candy from my candy bowl. Then he asked to see my Dad. Dad wasn’t busy so I let him go in. He came out like an hour later and thanked me for the candy and left. Mom declared at dinner that she’s going to go with the other lady society members to the Capital for a week, so I have to fill in for her.
History final has been moved up to next week. I am going to die.
So, I survived the history final? Somehow? Did I get lucky again? I showed my Dad the test and he gave me 40 crona as a reward. I showed my Mom and she told me that my luck’s bound to run out soon and I really need to start studying. I do study! I study a lot! Maybe not as much as she wants but if I was studying that much I’d have zero time for myself or to sleep.
I’m in bed right now, writing into this, and you know everything is all packed up. I even put most of my blankets away into these boxes. I’m running out of pages to write on, too. I keep tearing some out as scrap paper for homework. It’s really weird to sit in a room you’ve grown up in that’s now empty and full of boxes. Like, I’ve literally lived in this place since I was born! Now I’m going to be gone, just like that?
What will they do with my room when I’m gone? Maybe turn it into an upstairs parlor, or a small library for Dad’s medical texts? Or maybe nothing at all.
I came home from class and went to get changed out of my uniform. All my stuff was removed from my room except for my bed. My clothes, books, radio, everything gone. I went back downstairs to the receptionist desk and the tall military man was standing near it.
So yeah, he’s Slava, turns out.
He said everything was taken to his home and asked me to come with him. We went to the Kuznetsov compound and all my stuff was already moved in a smaller building that is apparently going to be Slava and mine’s until Tuule dies and we move into her manor.
I’m sitting in my our bedroom, the bed is pretty big and there’s like four pillows and a bowl of candy on the night stand. I like Slava so far, he didn’t call me ‘pauper faced’ and told me that I have nice handwriting.
I’m going to go buy a new journal next month, but I’ll be sure to keep you around. Maybe I’ll let Slava read you in a few years so he can see the thoughts of the idiot he’s been forced to marry.
EHA I READ YOUR DIARY.
YOU ARE NOT AN IDIOT.
I LOVE YOU.